At the federal level, a matricula consular ID card is only approved by the Treasury Department for opening bank accounts and for identifying the name and age of the bearer. At the state level, protections and services vary widely, the Center for Immigration Studies explains.
The matricula consular was established by the Mexican Government in 1870 and designed for identifying citizens abroad at the Mexican consulate who required assistance, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. The Mexican Government has pushed for a deeper acceptance of the matricula consular in the United States in spite of it being an insecure identification method with no way of verifying that the ID was not issued multiple times and without the applicant's identity ever being verified before issue. Ideally, the matricula consular would be accepted as identification of the same calibre as a Mexican passport and would allow Mexicans in the United States to hold jobs, open bank accounts, and remain in the country with or without a visa. The U.S. Treasury Department has given approval for matricula consular ID cards to be used for opening bank accounts only, but the ultimate decision to accept it or not is left with the specific bank.
On the state level, the acceptance varies widely. Some law enforcement departments, notably in border states, accept the card to avoid the time-consuming process of booking an arrested person without legal identification, reports the Center for Immigration Studies. Thirteen states accept the ID for obtaining a driver's license.